Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The contents have it

Broadcast tells us that Lord Hall is mulling over the idea of creating a Director of Content post, as Danny Cohen departs as Director of Television.

We've been mulling over that idea for five years on this blog, and this may be the best yet window of opportunity. Cohen going, Yentob not long to go - leaving Helen Boaden, Director of Radio and England, and a news animal for most of her career, as the Executive Board's sole 'creative' - saving the good Lord himself.  James Harding, current custodian of News, would regard himself as creative, but has yet to grasp tv scheduling - watch later this year as he pushes for a 45 minute 10pm bulletin to send the nation to sleep, and thus destroys his multi-million pound investment in Newsnight. Tim Davie would also regard himself as 'creative', but will be better paid at BBC Worldwide than any Director of Content.

In the online field, Director of Strategy and Digital, James Purnell is a soi-disant creative, having helped to produce a film once, but hardly a credible Director of Content.

Moneywoman Anne Bulford will have noted the savings that are beginning to flow from the "merger" of Engineering, Digital and Worldwide Technology. In output, there are myriad separate teams in online, radio, tv, sport, factual, entertainment, drama, arts and music making short-form video, playing social media games and launching digital initiatives and partnerships, and it is frankly out of control. Heritage work practices are protected in radio and tv, with budgets based for as long as anyone can remember on what we had last year - attempts at zero-based budgeting lead to obvious briefings to the press about "the death of built radio" or "the end of serious tv drama".

The creation of a Director of Content is the right move - but will depend on identifying a strong, credible and brave enough candidate well before Lord Hall goes public with such a structure.

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